‘Fargo’ Season 4: Chris Rock Shares How He Really Reacted to Being Offered the Lead Role

Chris Rock has been a cast member on Saturday Night Live, hosted his own HBO sketch comedy series, and has starred in countless movies. Yet, even with everything he’s done, Rock is still mostly known for his stand-up comedy. So the last place anyone would expect to find him is Fargo.

Inspired by the Coen brothers’ movie of the same name, the FX series combines black comedy and crime drama. In doing so, it creates something wholly unique for television. Moreover, its anthology-style storytelling has allowed a wide range of actors — including Billy Bob Thornton, Kirsten Dunst, and Ewan McGregor — to each carry a season. Now it’s Rock’s turn.

Noah Hawley, Chris Rock, and Jason Schwartzman talk 'Fargo' at the TCA Tour
Noah Hawley, Chris Rock, and Jason Schwartzman talk ‘Fargo’ at the TCA Tour | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

‘Fargo’ Season 4 features Chris Rock like we’ve never seen him

Set in 1950, Fargo Season 4 sees Rock play a Kansas City gangster named Loy Cannon. The character, according to Rock, has a foothold in a number of criminal activities in his community. But Fargo doesn’t portray Loy Cannon as a one-dimensional villain. Rather, what made the role so attractive to Rock — as he told Entertainment Weekly — is how the season explores who he is in a variety of different contexts.

The cool bit about this character for me is he’s so well rounded. It’s not just about his job. It’s also about his home life, and it’s what it’s like to be black in the 1950s and to be very ambitious — which must suck, right? I used to do a joke about Barack Obama being the first black president. Being the first black anything sucks. No one really enjoys it until they’re, like, the 37th black president. Jackie Robinson had no fun, but Reggie Jackson had the time of his life.

To Rock’s point, the character does provide Fargo with an opportunity to tell a very different kind of story this time around. Although the show has jumped back in time before, it has never gone as far as the 1950s. And Rock serves as Fargo‘s first African-American lead. He’s joined in season 4 by  Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, and Timothy Olyphant.

Even Chris Rock was surprised Noah Hawley wanted him for ‘Fargo’

After three seasons of ensemble casts mostly known for their dramatic work, casting Rock feels like an intriguing move for Fargo. Comic actors such as Rock’s SNL chum Adam Sandler are known for taking detours into drama. But Rock hasn’t really leaned into his serious side quite this hard before. Perhaps that’s why the actor was taken aback when Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley reached out to him.

“I thought he wanted me to host his kid’s Sweet 16, or the auction for his wife’s charity or something,” Rock told EW. “When I got there, he mentioned Fargo and told me about the character and I’m like, ‘I’m in.’ He didn’t have a script yet. I just kind of agreed.”

Given the awards attention and critical acclaim Fargo has consistently received, we can see why Rock would jump at the chance to stretch his acting muscles. When all is said and done, the actor might even be able to add a fifth Emmy to his collection for his work as Loy Cannon.

In fact, the hit FX series is more ambitious than ever in season 4

From its intriguing cast to its period setting, Fargo does appear to be upping the ante in season 4. Rock confirmed as much to EW, but he also clarified exactly how the show subverts expectations a bit.

[Season 4 is] the biggest Fargo. The scale is tremendous. Fargo normally tells little stories that get out of hand. They’re about ordinary people, something happens, and then we get to see how evil ordinary people can be. This is quite different. We start off gangsters. So we’re beginning with bad people, and then it escalates.

We’ll find out how Rock’s Loy Cannon does in the midst of all that chaos when Fargo Season 4 debuts on FX on April 19, 2020.